Couples yoga is so much more than a simple yoga practice. When you merge your practice with another’s, you fall into sync with that person. Your breath, movement, and body positions find a rhythm together. Because of this, practicing couples yoga can lead to some of the most intimate and fulfilling times you’ll spend together.
Yoga Creates Unity
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to join.” When you practice yoga, you celebrate the union of your mind, body, soul, and spirit. As a practice, yoga naturally creates unity. The practice of breathing together, and using orchestrated movement and relaxation with your partner, causes a phenomenon called entrainment. Entrainment happens when people or nature unite in a similar rhythm. For example, when a baby is close to a mother’s breast, her heartbeat will fall into rhythm with the mother’s heartbeat. Similarly, when you focus on the breath, body, and movement of another person in yoga practice, your physical body will entrain with the other. It’s a beautiful practice that creates harmony within the couple.
Couples Yoga Builds Trust
When you and your partner practice together doing Asanas (yoga poses), you must trust each other in every pose. You rely on your partner to hold onto you, stay put, or stay balanced. This total reliance on the other creates a sense of trust and reassurance as you realize your partner is there for you. These small successes in a couple’s practice are different than in daily life but they create a special bond. A partner pose is give and take and you learn that sometimes you can and should relinquish control.
All of the lessons learned in a yoga practice can and often do transfer to life off the mat. Since there’s no real cost if one of you messes up a yoga pose, you learn to accept mistakes gracefully. These feelings of trust and support tend to grow throughout your practice and beyond.
Laughter and Lightheartedness Make a Happy Couple
While yoga is a serious practice that requires effort and focus, there’s something about couples yoga that allows you to be more lighthearted. First of all, getting into a couple’s pose is kind of like playing Twister. You need to figure out where all the hands, arms, and feet go, and then you have to hold the pose once you get there. Just figuring out how to get into a pose can lead to a fair amount of laughter.
In addition to being fun, couple’s yoga is quite intimate. Part of intimacy is discovering each other’s limitations and talents and being able to accept them all. In couple’s yoga, you quickly learn your own limitations and those of your partner. You have to work together and make due with what you have. With the right attitude, this can strengthen the bond between the two of you.
How to Start Your Couples Practice
Find a time when you have at least an hour to dedicate to your practice. It might seem like a long time but you won’t be practicing the whole time. You have to get situated, focus on the breath, and learn the poses first. You might even have to tweak your setup to find one that works for you.
Tip: try placing two mats right next to each other to create one large mat.
When you’re ready, start your practice face to face and knee to knee. If one partner cannot sit cross-legged, have him or her sit in butterfly pose with the soles of the feet together. You’re ready to begin the opening sequence—a heart hug.
- Put your left hands on each other’s hearts and your right hands in a Namasté prayer pose.
- Once you’re in the opening posture, take a few deep breaths together. Allow your breathing to fall in sync.
- Open your eyes, look at your partner, give a kiss or hug and thank him or her for joining you for the practice.
The sequence of poses can follow as you choose. If you’re new to yoga, try starting with seated poses, then move to all fours, then to standing poses, and finally move back to the mat to finish. You can also try to integrate massage into many of the poses. Poses that are convenient for massage include child’s pose, puppy pose, down dog pose, and seated poses where you are face to face with your partner.
4 Couples Yoga Poses to Get You Partner Started
Sit face to face and knee to knee with your partner. You can be in simple cross-legged or half lotus pose. Have both people place their right hands behind their own back. With the left hands reach for your partner’s right hand. Open your right shoulder into a seated twist. You can then open your right arm above your head to join your partner’s hand into a side stretch and then lean forward for a kiss. Switch sides to get the twist on the opposite side.
Double Boat Pose
Sit facing your partner. Reach out and hold onto both of your partner’s hands or forearms with a good grip. Both of you will bend your knees with the feet flexed until your feet join together toes to toes. Then, lean back slightly as you lift one pair of legs up at a time until you are in boat pose. It may take some adjusting to get the proper distance apart to stay balanced. If your legs aren’t completely straight, that’s OK. The idea is to balance.
Child’s Pose With Upward Dog
Have one partner take a child’s pose with arms extended forward. If you are the one doing the upward dog, place your hands on your partner’s shoulder blades with fingers spread widely apart. Roll the shoulders back and lean your hips forward into the upward dog while resting your hips on your partner’s sacrum. Once you’re stable, you can lengthen through the legs and push up on your hands to lengthen the spine. Switch so both partners can experience both poses.
Partner Tree Pose
Tree pose with a partner can be both challenging and fun. It takes a lot of balance and trust to maintain this pose successfully. You can do partner tree either face to face or both facing the same direction. Start by standing next to each other with your feet about 6 to 8 inches apart. You will need this distance to maintain balance. Then place your arm closest to your partner around his or her waist and move your hips together so they are touching. Next, lift up the outside leg into the tree. Finally, the outside arm can come together with your partner’s in prayer posture or with the arms above your heads.
When performing these poses, make sure you’re always touching to maintain a constant connection. Also remember that patience and laughter go a long way in ensuring a fun and successful partner yoga practice.
*Couples yoga photos used courtesy of Jessica Maleski.